WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Cape Fear Community College Board of Trustees approved a two-year contract to pay new President Jim Morton $255,000 per year.
The contract includes $158,718 set by the State Board of Community Colleges and a $96,282 supplement decided by the board of trustees.
Morton's hire stirred up controversy since he is one of four community college presidents in the state without a doctorate degree. Board Chairman Mat White said Morton's lack of a doctorate did not affect the salary.
"If he had a doctorate, great. It would have made no difference in the money," White said. "It's based purely on our position within the state with other colleges."
CFCC ranks fifth in full-time student enrollment (FTE) statewide. White said the board averaged the fifth- and sixth-highest local supplements in the state to determine CFCC's supplement.
WECT reported CFCC saw an 18 percent drop in enrollment before Morton took the job.
During Thursday night's board meeting, the newly-appointed president reported an 8 percent jump in summer enrollment.
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the school's accrediting agency, is reviewing the president's hire. State Representative Deb Butler reached out to SACSCOC with concerns about the lack of a broad search.
In response, the accrediting agency asked the CFCC Board of Trustees to respond to Butler's accusations with a report on how it went through the selection process. White said he's confident the college's accreditation is not in danger.
"We gave them all of the answers they asked for and, strangely enough, their questions never really pertained to anything about hiring," White said. "I think they are basically responding. We don't see any problems there at all."
When asked about the public's calls for more transparency from the board, White claimed it doesn't need to make changes.
"We are transparent," White said. "Sometimes, I think people hide behind the word transparency and use it when they don't agree. We are open."